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Housecall Pro blog

Everything you need to succeed as a Home Services company in a digital world.

TOPIC: Guides

How to Handle the Haters

October 18, 2016 • We’ve all experienced it. An unhappy customer takes to the internet to blast your company and it suddenly becomes the most glaring thing on the review site. You’re angry, a little hurt, possibly confused as to why this person would say such things. But it happened, it’s out there, and now you have to deal with it. So what steps should you be taking to deal with these negative reviews? Here’s our advice on how to successfully handle them and move forward.  Take a Step Back The first thing you need to do is take a step back from the situation. Put your emotions aside and evaluate the review to determine if it was warranted. Did you show up late? Were you unprepared? Did the job take longer than you had told the customer it would? Sometimes we make mistakes, and the unhappy customer takes to the internet. It’s important to determine the underlying factor that caused this customer to take the time to write a negative review in order to determine how to best move forward. Respond Publicly Once you’ve put your emotions aside, respond to the review publicly. Don’t get defensive, even if you think the review was undeserved. Address the customer's concerns in a calm, respectful, and apologetic manner.  Even if you feel that they don’t deserve an apology for your actions, you can at least apologize for causing them to feel a certain way. Make sure you are empathetic to their concerns and genuine in your apology in order to convey that whatever happened was not typical of your business. You can even take the opportunity to highlight some of your company’s strengths in your response. The most important thing is to make sure the customer feels that their concerns have been heard. Respond Privately After you have responded to the review in a public way, reach out to the individual reviewer to personally respond. Make sure you are still staying calm and sincere. Oftentimes a reviewer just wants to be sure their concerns are being acknowledged. Assure them that you have heard their feedback and are taking it seriously. Apologize again if necessary, and take steps to rectify the situation. Perhaps you want to offer them some sort of discount or even a free service for their next appointment. The steps you take will differ depending on the situation, but you should always strive to determine the appropriate action to turn them into a satisfied customer. Find the Positive Maybe the review pointed out a flaw in your company, or alerted you to one of your techs doing something you don’t approve of. No matter what, you can learn something from the review, whether it be how customers react to certain things or just gaining insight into how you can change your business for the better. If multiple bad reviews mention the same thing, you know it’s a problem in your company that needs to be addressed. Share the reviews with your techs so they have a better understanding of your customers. Although it may seem to have a negative effect on your business, reviews can actually be incredibly valuable by helping you to continue improving. Encourage More Reviews Building up the number of positive reviews you have on a website will help those negative ones not stand out quite so much. Getting more reviews is as simple as asking! One of the easiest ways to do this is to include a link to a review site in a follow-up email after a job. That way all the customer has to do is click and type! Make things as easy as possible for the customer and your number of reviews will soar. If you need help getting started on gaining more reviews, check out these tips from Forbes! Move On Bad reviews happen. You can’t dwell on them or they’ll be a distraction from your real work. Once you’ve dealt with it properly, move on. A few bad reviews can even be a good thing for your business. If you were to see a business with only 5 star reviews, you might wonder whether or not those reviews are all real. Getting a few negative ones here and there can actually help the legitimacy of your business! While getting negative reviews may not sound like your idea of fun, use them to your advantage and take the opportunity to make positive changes in your business. Do great work and the positive reviews will start flowing in! Deal with those negative reviews, learn from them, and make your business great again.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

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How Should You Connect With Your Customers?

August 31, 2016 • Running your service business is a full-time job. Not only do you need to worry about getting the right supplies and equipment to get the job done, you also need to pay attention to the specific needs of your customers. Even small, local businesses need to have a finger on the pulse of shopping habits so that they can maintain a steady stream of satisfied clients. Since the world is ever-evolving in the Digital Age, staying up-to-date on consumer trends and preferences can fall to the bottom of your priority list. We understand that your time is a precious resource. No sweat - we’ve got you covered! So, check out the facts on the infographic. Here are some lessons we can learn from it: 1) Smartphones are still gaining popularity:  Since 2010, mobile device usage has gone up 575%. This trend is here to stay. More than half of Americans, 65% to be exact, have smartphones. That number is only continuing to rise. 2) Consumers spend a significant amount of time on mobile devices. About 2.5 hours every day, on average. 80% of that time is spent using mobile apps. 3) Your business’ online presence truly matters. Consumers need to be able to first find your business online, then be able to find reviews to guide their purchasing decisions. You also need an easy-to-use, well-designed website so that your website visitors can easily convert into customers. 4) Having an app will help you reach customers where they spend their time. People spend hours of time every single day using apps. If you want to reach potential customers where they are, having an app is a good start! Of course, the average service business probably does not have the resources to allocate to design and develop a fully-functioning app. To get your business featured on an app, we suggest finding a 3rd party organization that you’d like to work with, such as a lead generation program or a program that offers mobile booking. No matter the size of your company, understanding what customers expect is key to ensuring that your business is booming. That’s why this infographic is called “Digital or Dust.” If you fail to adapt with the times, you’re business could get left behind in the dust. Stay one step ahead of the competition by offering exactly what consumers demand.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

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Do You Even Promote?

August 25, 2016 • Everyone loves a good discount. So, how can you run a successful sale to increase your revenue and gain more customers? Check out these tips and tricks to learn how to expand your business! Have a Reason For Your Promotion Sending out promotions willy-nilly might lead to some success, but to really create a great promotion you should have a reason behind it. Do you want to generate more referrals? Introduce a new service that you are now offering? Up your business during a slow season? Be sure to define a goal you want to accomplish during your promotion and create the discount accordingly. You also need to pay close attention to the timing of your promotion. If you want to run a New Year’s sale to increase your business in January, make sure you’re not sending out the information on the promotion in September. Sending out discount coupons too far ahead of when the sale actually takes place will cause your customers to forget about it. Have a Target Audience It’s important to know your customer and create a promotion that appeals to them. Oftentimes, it may even be better to cater your offer toward a specific subset of your customers. For example, if you’re offering a service to remove pet hair from couches, it would be a waste to send this promotion to customers you know don’t have pets. A little extra time in the planning of your promotion can save you lots of money in the long run! Give the Right Incentive Too big of a discount and you’ll be losing money, too small and your customers won’t use it. It’s all about finding the discount sweet spot to make you more money and make your customers happy! This will take a bit of trial and error, so we recommend starting out with some test discounts to see how they fare before putting resources into bigger promotions. Get Creative How are you going to tell people about the discount? Emails? Postcards? Newspapers and magazines? Get creative with your wording and messaging on whatever medium you choose. Eye-catching graphics and slogans will go a long way in getting your audience to actually participate in the promotion! In this day and age, social media can also be a great resource for getting the word out about promotions. Remember not to be too wordy and to use attention-grabbing pictures. You can also utilize other unique ways to grab customer’s attention. Holding a contest or giving out a prize can help incentivize your customers to take advantage of your promotion! Specify Start & End Dates Giving people a time-frame to utilize the promotion will help create a sense of urgency for them. Having a specific end date will help ensure that customers realize they need to act quickly in order to get the discount. Keeping things open-ended doesn’t give customers any reason to use the promotion now, and chances are if they don’t use it quickly, they will simply forget about it. Track Your Success Once the promotion has launched and you’ve started booking customers from it, you need to keep track of how the promotion did. Pay attention to the type of customer that responded. You can then create a simple return on investment (ROI) calculation to see how you did. ROI is equal to the (gain from investment – cost of investment)/cost of investment. For example, if your promotion results in $500 in revenue and cost you $200 to run, then your ROI would be: (500-200)/200 = 150%. This calculation gives you an easy way to tell how well your promotion did and whether it will be worth repeating again in the future! Keep An Eye On the Competition As a final word of advice, make sure you are always keeping an eye on what your competition is doing. If you are both offering a Labor Day discount, you want to be sure that your discount is at least on par with theirs, if not better. If your audience sees you are both running promotions but your competition is offering a better discount, they will likely go with your competitor, meaning you spent a lot of time and money on a promotion that won’t be very successful. Promotions can be key to getting and retaining customers, so it’s important to make sure you are running them in the most effective way. It will take a bit of testing to figure out what works best for your target client base, but with these tips you’ll be building up your revenue and outrunning the competition in no time!

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

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Do This Before You Hire Techs

August 8, 2016 • What is your process for hiring new techs for your business? Does it involve an interview process? Technical tests? Personality assessments? If you don’t currently utilize personality assessments in your hiring process, we think you should start! Learning your technician's personality traits will help you to identify those individuals whose personalities may not fit with your current business culture. It may be that a job applicant has the hard skills necessary for a job but maybe they're not quite a fit with your team. These effective personality assessments can also help you after you hire the tech as they will give you better insight into their communication methods and reactive tendencies.  Personality assessments will also help you create a team that will work well together in order to better your business while simultaneously lowering employee turnover by ensuring you are hiring the right people the first time around! There are a variety of tools that you can use for these personality tests available on the Internet, but we’ve narrowed it down to the best for you (and found the free ones!). Myers-Briggs The most popular personality assessment tool out there, Myers-Briggs, breaks down each person into one of 16 different categories by assigning them a four-letter combination. Myers-Briggs will assign these letters based on where a person gets their energy, how they gather information, how they make decisions, and how they live their lives. Each of these types has their own unique strengths and weaknesses and is better suited for certain jobs.  WHY USE MYERS-BRIGGS: Since Myers-Briggs is the most widely used personality tool out there, there’s been tons of research done about the different personality types and the way they interact with all other types. This means that as soon as you find out your personality type, you can start analyzing how you can change your communication strategies with everyone! If you want to find out a lot about the personality of your techs, this is the test for you! RESOURCES: Click Here to visit the official Myers-Briggs Website and take the assessment test.  Click Here for the FREE short version of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment.   The Big 5 The Big 5 Personality Traits Test lets you know where you fall along a spectrum of five different traits: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experiences. While there are many complicated factors involved in a person’s personality that may not be captured by this assessment, it can provide good insight by describing their spot on each scale. It also does not put a person into one particular type but rather rates them on a scale meaning it's much more helpful in providing a broad overview of an applicant’s typical behavior! WHY USE THE BIG 5:  The Big 5 Personality Traits Test gives you a good overview of how a person is likely to act in different scenarios. If you are concerned with how your tech will behave on a typical day, this is the test for you! RESOURCES: Click Here to take the Big 5 Personality Traits Test DISC The DISC assessment is another personality assessment that will give you results on a spectrum, this time of four different behavioral styles: Drive, Influence, Support, and Clarity. In this case, the amount of each style you are will add up to 100. So you might be 25% of each, or maybe 40% Drive, 20% Influence, 35% Support, and 5% Clarity. Similar to The Big 5, this test measures behavior, rather than just personality traits, meaning there is more flexibility for change and growth than in just personality. This test is helpful in learning more about how a person relates to others and a general framework for their behavior. WHY USE DISC:  The DISC assessment is a great tool to help with coaching and development. If your management style is coaching, then this is the test for you!  RESOURCES: Click Here to take the DISC Personality Assessment Test Enneagram The Enneagram test assigns each person a number from 1-9, with each number representing unique characteristics. Similar to the Myers-Briggs test, lots of research has been done regarding the different Enneagram types and how they interact with each other, so you can learn a lot about your potential techs personality through their Enneagram number. For example, you may be an individualist, a peacemaker, or an achiever. This assessment will give you a generalized understanding of the applicant’s personality type, similar to a snapshot of their personality. This test is particularly helpful in gathering a general idea of each applicant’s personality and will give you insight into how they will likely interact with others. WHY USE THE ENNEAGRAM: The Enneagram test can give you a good understanding of how your potential tech will relate to others. If you are concerned about your team working together well, this is the test for you! Click Here to take the Enneagram Personality Assessment Test Finding great employees is no easy task, and we understand that personality assessment tests alone won't singlehandedly help you achieve success.  However, we strongly believe that these assessment tests can provide incredibly valuable insights for your business.  Personality assessments should be used as supplementary tools to enhance your understanding of personality traits and tendencies. You can use them to help you in your decision to ensure you are hiring the best candidate not only for the job, bur for your company as a whole. Also, these tests are not just designed for your employees, but for you as well. Understanding your own personality type will help you tremendously, especially with your communication approach. So go ahead and take them all! Let us know how it goes!

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Two service professionals standing in front of a van

3 Surefire Ways to Increase Revenue

January 25, 2016 • Do you struggle to market your business? Is it a challenge to reach new customers? And once you find a new customer, how on earth do you keep them coming back? Marketing your business can seem like a full-time job, one that you may not have time for after a hard day’s work. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! In 2015, nearly a quarter of small business owners listed marketing their business and finding customers as their top challenge. It can seem daunting to craft a marketing strategy for your business that targets just the right type of customers for your business at the right time. That’s why we’ve created a simple 3-step plan to help you grow your business and keep your customers coming back time and time again. Before we jump into strategy, let’s talk about your customers. Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, so your primary goal should be the satisfaction of your current customers. Your current customers are people who you have already built a relationship with, and who already know the value of your services, so it’s a far more efficient use of your time to solidify those relationships as your first priority. If you’re still not convinced that retaining customers is valuable, check out this research that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Now are you sold on focusing on your current customers yet? Good, because once your customers are satisfied, they will be more than happy to refer you to their friends and family! Not only are current customers less expensive to retain, but they are also your BEST source for finding new business. With that in mind, here is the simple, three step plan we’ve created to help you re-market to your current clients:  Thank your customers Send out reminders Ask for referrals The steps seem simple enough, right? Let’s look a little more in depth at how you can make each of these phases work for you and your company: Step 1: THANK your customers for their business The very first phase of your marketing plan should always be thanking your customers, and not just on-site. Your first job with a new customer is like an interview - you impress them based on your merits during the job, as well as follow up and make sure you stand out afterwards. This can be as simple as a 30 second phone call, an email, or a postcard. No matter how small the gesture, showing your gratitude is an easy way to let your customers know that you care about them, and appreciate that out of all the other companies in your industry, they selected yours. There are also economic advantages to expressing your gratitude. Don’t believe me? Check out this study, which found that waiters who write “thank you” and a personalized message on their receipts received larger tips than waiters who didn’t, as well as this study, which found that a retail store’s volume of purchased goods rose by 70% after calling past customers and thanking them for their purchases. These results stem from the fact that a simple “thank you” intensifies your relationship with your customers and their loyalty to your brand. In other words, there’s absolutely no excuse for not expressing your gratitude. Step 2: REMIND your customers about your business As a business owner, you want to believe that your customer service and superior quality are enough to earn a permanent place in your customer’s rolodex, but in today’s world, that’s simply not enough. This is especially true in the home services industry, where a single customer may have relationships with a carpet cleaner, plumber, window cleaner, pest control company, and a landscaper (just to name a few). That amount of information is a lot to keep track of, especially when factoring in follow-up service schedules.  It is your job as a business owner to prevent your customers from forgetting about you. Make a point of reaching out to your customers every three months, six months - whatever time frame works best for your industry. Just make sure that you are contacting them early enough that you remind them of your service before they would think to look for it on their own. That way, you can eliminate the possibility of your customer losing your contact information and booking someone else. Step 3: Ask your customers for REFERRALS Referrals are hands down the most successful marketing channel at your disposal. The proof is in the pudding: Customers are four times more likely to use a service if they are referred by a friends, and referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value than non-referred customers. This is especially true if you do commercial work: 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral. There are three steps to harnessing the power of referrals: Earn it:  Your quest for referrals begins far before you ever start re-marketing to your customers; it begins with your quality of service. Make sure you leave your customers satisfied and thank them for their business, so that they feel appreciated.. Ask for it:  This tends to be the hardest step for many business owners. Some may be embarrassed or afraid to ask. Others may think they don’t have the time or that their customers should just be willing to give referrals without needing to be asked. Whatever your thought process may be, there is no reason NOT to tap into this goldmine of new business.   Reward it:  If you want your business to be at the top of your customers’ minds, you need to give them a reason to think and speak of you often. This can be as simple as expressing your gratitude, or it can be more tangible, like offering your customer a discount or a gift card. When all's said and done, your best bet for creating lasting relationships with your customers is making sure they know that you value their business. As simple as these three steps are, your customers will appreciate feeling like they are valued member of your business community, and in turn, will be happy to help you spread the word and help you grow your business!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Employee Permissions and Jobs Update

January 10, 2016 • Enhanced Employee Permissions Manage what your employees can and cannot do in the system. Assign roles to each member of your team and set each individual's permissions. Non-Job Events Make it easy for everyone in your organization to see when someone is busy. Avoid conflicts by creating non-job events in the calendar to mark off personal time or vacations. Enhanced Employee Permissions Enhanced employee permissions allow you to get more specific with what your employees can and can't do/access in the HouseCall Pro app. In order to access the permissions toggle board, navigate to the 'My Account' button at the top right corner of the pro portal home screen and find the 'Employees' tab in the top ribbon. From there, click on the employee whose permissions you would like to edit and flip the switches to the correct position for each capability. Here are the permission options: See job prices & add, update, and delete jobs See customer phone number & email In-app chat with HouseCall app customers See & edit customer database Update company account info Accept instant (non-job) credit card payments  **You can set different permissions for each employee according to your business needs.  Non-Job Events You can now create non-job events on the pro portal. These events are ideal for administrators to more effectively schedule jobs around employee calendar items that are non-job related: 1. Click on the '+Add new' green button at the top right-hand corner of the web portal 2. Type in the name or description of the event in the text field 3. Enter in the address of where the event will take place (if applicable) 4. Click on the 'schedule' box to be taken to a calendar view You will be taken to a calendar schedule page where you can change the date, time, and employee associate with the event. This can be done by either dragging the event to the desired slot on the schedule itself, or by selecting 'edit team' and checking off the employees associated with the event. You can also click on 'recurrence' to set repeating event specifications. From there, simply click the 'Back' button at the top left-hand corner of the screen, and click 'save.' The event will show up on the schedule in a dark gray color.  **Note: Non-job events are only available on the pro portal. Mobile non-job events are coming soon!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Calendar and New Features

December 20, 2015 • Customizable Calendar Quick-Views Need to quickly access specific information from your calendar? Customize exactly what you see when you hover over jobs to help you save time. In-App Arrival Windows Rather than telling customers you'll arrive at an exact time, now you can set arrival windows in the mobile app. Give yourself leeway between jobs and set it up without ever being in front of a computer. Customizable Calendar Quick-Views Calendar quick-views now allow you to customize what you can see when you look at your jobs on the schedule screen. When you hover over a job, you will see an overlay that allows you to check off what you want to see on the calendar item by default. You can select to see customer name, job description, job charge amount, customer address, city/state, zip code, and arrival window.  This customization allows you to optimize job scheduling for your specific business needs. All jobs scheduled will reflect the viewable details that you set up on the quick-view selection.  Arrival Windows You can now assign arrival windows from the job scheduling screen on your iPhone or Android device. Simply navigate to the 'Arrival Window' tab in the job scheduling section and select the tab. You will be directed to a screen where you can select your arrival window for that job and preview what it will look like to your customer in the top section. You can also set arrival windows from the web portal. Mobile Job Feed Scrolling  You can now infinitely scroll through and view all future and past jobs from your mobile device. This is great if you need to cross reference job history or check the status of past jobs on the fly.  Address and Customer Notes Your customer address notes now show up on the job detail screen accessible through your mobile device. You can create notes for each separate customer address and also add customer notes when adding a new customer. Customers will not be able to see these notes. 

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator